EDDINGTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — For the Penobscot Indian Nation, the breaching of the Veazie Dam is an important day, and an opportunity to embrace a part of their culture that went away when the dams went up roughly 200 years ago.
“You see a breaching like this today and it really gives us tremendous hope that the future of this river is in very good hands,” explained Penobscot Nation Chief Kirk Francis. He watched the dam breach with deep satisfaction. The tribe and the river, share a name, meaning “rocky part”. The tribe is bound to the river and has been for centuries. “Whether it’s a salmon spear, whether it’s paddling these birch barks (canoes) our people are just starving to practice those ancient customs that our ancestors have always done,” Francis added.
One young man and tribal member who felt the need to be on the river during this ceremony was Robert Dana.
“To me, to paddle on the water on this day was very important,” he said. He made the trip on a traditional birch bark canoe.
Barry Dana, who was the chief of the Penobscot Indian Nation when the agreement was reached more than a decade ago was also looking to the future.
“So now I can sort of look at my grand kids and you know say this river, when you guys were just babies there were dams on it, and they’d say what’s that?”
Now native salmon may once again return to the tribes ancient fishing grounds.
“To ensure health for future generations is to ensure the health of the planet, the health of the river,” explained Dana.